Alex's Update Issue 175

Alex's Update Issue 175

Monday 27 June 2016

NSW Budget, Council Election Donations, Future Art Education, Marriage Equality Conversation, Exporting Cruelty, Mental Health Grants & Awards and Refugee Language Program

NSW Budget

Last week’s budget included continued funding for a new inner city high school and capital funds for the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, which I understand will be largely spent to upgrade the Equestrian Centre, but there is a large drop in capital funding for the Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain Trust.

I welcome $2.7 billion for the Sydney Metro and $76 million over four years on cycleways (where these will be built is yet to be identified) but the roads focus remains with billions allocated to the WestConnex, NorthConnex and Pacific Highway duplication.

The housing focus is on planning for growth with affordable housing left to the market. While additional private rental subsidy funds are welcome, this is not a long term solution for the 60,000 families on waiting lists for social housing or those paying up to 85 per cent of their income in rent.

The trend to deal with crime through incarceration over early intervention and prevention continues with 7,000 additional new prison beds planned, though there is some funding for social cohesion programs to counter extremism and terrorism.

Council Election Donations 

I welcome reforms to finally cap local government election donations. Currently one donor can legally fund a candidate’s entire campaign, creating significant potential for corruption and undue influence given council planning decisions can lead to massive private profit. Reform is needed more than ever as election campaigns grow under amalgamated councils. During debate I asked the government to ensure further reforms including expenditure caps are in place before elections of merged councils which are under administration until September next year. My speech is HERE

Future Art Education

I share community concern that merging the Sydney College of the Arts with the UNSW Art and Design school, and potentially the National Art School, could reduce opportunities to study under different approaches, styles and practices essential to different artistic talents. Sydney’s thriving arts and culture scenes make it an attractive place to live, work and visit and in Parliament I asked the government to retain all existing programs, courses and teachers. My question is HERE.  

Marriage Equality Conversation

Read my oped in the Daily Telegraph on having a marriage equality campaign that is peaceful and respectful national conversation about a reform based on love and commitment. Read it HERE

Exporting Cruelty 

More than 50 animal welfare group investigations have exposed cruel treatment of animals in live export, and rules have been tightened but the cruelty continues as exposed again on the ABC. Cover up seems to be the industry response, with vet Lynn Simpson sacked for doing her job documenting the problem. Join the campaign to end live export.

Mental Health Grants & Awards 

The Mental Health Association NSW offers small grants in a range of categories to community groups for events during October’s Mental Health Month. Applications close 21 July, information HERE

You can also nominate people and organisations for Mental Health Matters Awards to recognise their work to improve mental health understanding, awareness and services. Nominations close 22 July, information HERE.

Refugee Language Program

The Refugee Language Program at the University of Sydney provides free language classes, mentoring and social activities and is looking for funds to continue providing the programs, which are not available elsewhere. Details HERE

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!